It's the piano's fault.
I cannot recall who sent me to his little tiny house in the woods to see if he would like to share a house in Newport with us. We were young and newly commissioned and unmarried and looking for someone to share the price of a place while we attended Surface Warfare School. Mike was finishing up a Master's Degree in Chemistry at Penn State. I sought him out, knocked on the door of a tiny little house (I mean really really really small) and asked if he would join the two of us young Ensigns in a few days of house-hunting leave in Newport since I had been informed that he was heading to Department Head School when he graduated and I thought we could use his help with rent.
He was interested. I was struck by his little house in the woods. It was, no kidding, a little tar paper shack about 12 feet by 15 feet. It was packed with woodwind instruments, guitars, and the most ridiculously expensive stereo equipment on the planet which he bought in Japan when he was on USS Worden.
I started keeping a journal back then because I wanted, in the morning, most of all, to know where I left my car the night before. We threw some epic parties, living as we did at 14 Annandale Road, by Cliff Walk and blocks from Salve Regina Girls College, but we followed a code and it was a simple one. Nobody ever left our parties drunk at the wheel of a car. I would walk home from other people's parties and bars or get a ride, but never ever drive home from the bars after too much and I usually had too much. I used to leave my car in the oddest places and Mike would give me a lift to get it in the morning on the way to Coasters Harbor Island.
Mike could play anything beautifully and he had an extensive library of what I called Irish Revolutionary Tunes.
A few moments to remember. One meets so many people. The Navy being the Navy, I kept running into Mike over the years. One often does that with good people. I have never seen again the people I despised in the Navy. They just vanished or went to live in Norfolk.
No officer, that's not a bloody knife in my hand....
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